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A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a
vassal state A vassal state is any state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...
under a local or indigenous or regional ruler in a
subsidiary alliance A subsidiary alliance, in South Asian history, was a tributary alliance between an Indian state and a European East India Company. The system of subsidiary alliances was pioneered by the French East India Company governor Joseph François Du ...
with the
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after Acts of Union 1707, 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known a ...
and after 1858 with the
British Crown The Crown is the in all its aspects within the of the s and their subdivisions (such as the , , , or ). Legally ill-defined, the term has different meanings depending on context. It is used to designate the monarch in either a personal capa ...

British Crown
. Though the history of the princely states of the subcontinent dates from at least the classical period of Indian history, the predominant usage of the term ''princely state'' specifically refers to a semi-sovereign principality on the Indian subcontinent during the
British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the In ...

British Raj
that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by a local ruler, subject to a form of
indirect rule Indirect rule was a system of governance used by the British and others to control parts of their colonial empire A colonial empire is a collective of territories (often called colonies), either contiguous with the imperial center or located ove ...
on some matters. The imprecise doctrine of
paramountcy Suzerainty () is a relationship in which one state or other polity controls the foreign policy and relations of a tributary state, while allowing the tributary state to have internal autonomy. The dominant state is called the "suzerain." Suzeraint ...
allowed the government of British India to interfere in the internal affairs of princely states individually or collectively and issue edicts that applied to all of India when it deemed it necessary. At the time of the British withdrawal, 565 princely states were officially recognised in the Indian subcontinent, apart from thousands of
zamindar A zamindar (also known as zomindar, zomidar, or jomidar) in the Indian subcontinent was an autonomous or semiautonomous ruler of a state who were originally Hindu Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnica ...

zamindar
i
estates Estate or The Estate may refer to: Law * Estate (law), a term in common law for a person's property, entitlements and obligations * Estates of the realm, a broad social category in the histories of certain countries. ** The Estates, representative ...
and
jagir A jagir ( fa, , translit=Jāgir), also spelled as jageer, was a type of feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between ...
s. In 1947, princely states covered 40% of the area of pre-independence India and constituted 23% of its population. The most important states had their own British Political Residencies:
Hyderabad Hyderabad ( , , ) is the capital and largest city of the India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the ...
of the
Nizam The Nizams were the rulers of Hyderabad from 18th-through-20th-century. Nizam of Hyderabad (Niẓām ul-Mulk, also known as Asaf Jah) was the title of the monarch of the Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad De ...

Nizam
s,
Mysore Mysore (), officially Mysuru (; Kannada: ಮೈಸೂರು), is a city in the southern part of the state of Karnataka, India. Mysore city is geographically located between 12° 18′ 26″ north latitude and 76° 38′ 59″ east longitude. I ...
and
Travancore The Kingdom of Travancore (Help:IPA/English, /ˈtrævənkɔːr/), also known as the Kingdom of Thiruvithamkoor, was an Indian kingdom from c. 1729 until 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruva ...
in the South, followed by
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
, and
Sikkim Sikkim (; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Sikkim
in the
Himalayas The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It ar ...

Himalayas
, and
Indore Indore is the most populous and the largest in the Indian state of . It serves as the headquarters of both and . It is also considered as an education hub of the state and has campuses of both the and the . Located on the southern edge of ...
in Central India. The most prominent among those – roughly a quarter of the total – had the status of a
salute state A salute state was a princely state under the British Raj that had been granted a gun salute by the British Crown (as paramount ruler); i.e., the protocolary privilege for its ruler to be greeted—originally by Royal Navy ships, later also on la ...
, one whose ruler was entitled to a set number of
gun salute A salute is a gesture A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication Nonverbal communication (NVC) is the transmission of messages or signals through a nonverbal platform such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, Posture ...
s on ceremonial occasions. The princely states varied greatly in status, size, and wealth; the premier 21-gun salute states of Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir were each over in size. In 1941, Hyderabad had a population of over 16 million, while Jammu and Kashmir had a population of slightly over 4 million. At the other end of the scale, the non-salute principality of Lawa covered an area of , with a population of just below 3,000. Some two hundred of the lesser states even had an area of less than . The era of the princely states effectively ended with Indian independence in 1947; by 1950, almost all of the principalities had acceded to either India or Pakistan. The accession process was largely peaceful, except in the cases of
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
(whose ruler decided to accede to India following an invasion by Pakistan-based forces),
Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad Deccan, was an Indian princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state under a local or in ...
(whose ruler opted for independence in 1947, followed a year later by the invasion and annexation of the state by India), Junagarh (whose ruler acceded to Pakistan, but was
annexed upCivilians and coalition military forces wave Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian flags as they celebrate the reversal of the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq (28 February 1991). Annexation (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging t ...
by India), and Kalat (whose ruler declared independence in 1947, followed in 1948 by the state's accession to Pakistan). As per the terms of accession, the erstwhile Indian princes received privy purses (government allowances), and initially retained their statuses, privileges, and autonomy in internal matters during a transitional period which lasted until 1956. During this time, the former princely states were merged into unions, each of which was headed by a former ruling prince with the title of ''Rajpramukh'' (ruling chief), equivalent to a state governor. In 1956, the position of ''Rajpramukh'' was abolished and the federations dissolved, the former principalities becoming part of Indian states. The states which acceded to Pakistan retained their status until the promulgation of a new constitution in 1956, when most became part of the province of
West Pakistan West Pakistan ( ur, , translit=Mag̱ẖribī Pākistān, ; bn, পশ্চিম পাকিস্তান, translit=Pôścim Pakistan) was one of the two Provincial exclaves An enclave is a territory (or a part of one) that is entirely ...
; a few of the former states retained their autonomy until 1969 when they were fully integrated into Pakistan. The Indian Government abolished the privy purses in 1971, followed by the Government of Pakistan in 1972.


History

Though principalities and chiefdoms existed on the Indian subcontinent from at least the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
, the history of princely states on the Indian subcontinent dates to at least the 5th–6th centuries C.E., during the rise of the
middle kingdoms of India The Middle kingdoms of India were the political entities in India from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE. The period begins after the decline of the Maurya Empire and the corresponding rise of the Satavahana dynasty, starting with ...
following the collapse of the
Gupta Empire The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed from the early 4th century CE to late 6th century CE. At its zenith, from approximately 319 to 467 CE, it covered much of the Indian subcontinent. This period is considered as the Go ...

Gupta Empire
.Agarwal, Ashvini (1989). ''Rise and Fall of the Imperial Guptas'', Delhi:Motilal Banarsidass, , pp.264–9 Many of the future ruling clan groups – notably the
Rajputs Rajput (from Sanskrit ''raja-putra'', "son of a king") is a large multi-component cluster of castes, kin bodies, and local groups, sharing social status and ideology of genealogical descent originating from the Indian subcontinent. The term R ...

Rajputs
– began to emerge during this period; by the 13th–14th centuries, many of the Rajput clans had firmly established semi-independent principalities in the north-west, along with several in the north-east. The widespread expansion of Islam during this time brought many principalities into tributary relations with Islamic sultanates, notably with the
Mughal Empire The Mughal, Mogul, or Moghul Empire was an early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, ge ...
. In the south, however, the Hindu
Vijayanagara Empire The Vijayanagara Empire, also called Karnata Kingdom, was based in the Deccan Plateau region in South India South India is a region located in the southern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ...

Vijayanagara Empire
remained dominant until the mid-17th century; among its tributaries was the future
Mysore Kingdom The Kingdom of Mysore was a realm in South India, southern India, traditionally believed to have been founded in 1399 in the vicinity of the modern city of Mysore. From 1799 until 1950, it was a princely state, until 1947 in a subsidiary allianc ...
. The Turco-Mongol Mughal Empire brought a majority of the existing Indian kingdoms and principalities under its suzerainty by the 17th century, beginning with its foundation in the early 16th century. Despite the difference in religion, the Mughal emperors also contracted a series of marriages with
Rajput Rajput (from Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Rajput
princesses, and Rajput forces and generals became an important part of their military power. The advent of
Sikhism Sikhism () or Sikhi ( pa, ਸਿੱਖੀ ', , from pa, ਸਿੱਖ, lit=disciple', 'seeker', or 'learner, translit=Sikh, label=none)''Sikhism'' (indigenously known as ''Sikhī'') originated from the word ''Sikh'', which comes from the Sanskr ...
resulted in the creation of the
Sikh Empire The Sikh Empire ( fa, , Sarkār-ē-Khālsā, lit=Government of the Khalsa; pa, , ਸਿੱਖ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਰਾਜ , Sikkh Khālsā Rāj, lit=Sikh Khalsa rule), also known as the Punjab Empire, was a state originating in the Indian ...

Sikh Empire
in the north by the early 18th century, by which time the Mughal Empire was in full decline. The Muslim
nawab Nawab ( ar, نواب; bn, নবাব/নওয়াব; hi, नवाब; Punjabi language, Punjabi : ਨਵਾਬ; Persian language, Persian, Punjabi language, Punjabi , Sindhi language, Sindhi, Urdu: نواب), also spelt Nawaab, Nava ...

nawab
s had begun as appointed governors of territories conquered by the Mughals, in theory a non-hereditory title, with obligations to pay a large share of their revenues to the emperor. As the emperors became too weak to enforce their power, the nawabs stopped paying, and passed on their realms to their sons. At the same time, the
Maratha The Marathi people, also rendered as Marathis or Maharashtrian, are an ethnolinguistic group who speak Marathi language, Marathi, an Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan language, as their native language. They inhabit the state of Maharashtra in mo ...

Maratha
s carved out their own states to form the
Maratha Empire The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was a power that dominated a large portion of the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century. The empire formally existed from 1674 with the coronation of Shivaji Shivaji Bhonsale I (; 19 ...

Maratha Empire
. Through the 18th century, former Mughal governors formed their own independent states. In the north-west, some of those – such as Tonk – allied themselves with various groups, including the Marathas and the
Durrani Empire The Durrani Empire ( ps, د درانيانو ټولواکمني), also called the Sadozai Kingdom and the Afghan Empire, was an Afghan Afghan ( Pashto/Persian language, Persian: ) refers to someone or something from Afghanistan, in particul ...
, itself formed in 1747 from a loose agglomeration of tribal chiefdoms that composed former Mughal territories. In the south, the principalities of Hyderabad and Arcot were fully established by the 1760s, though they nominally remained vassals of the Mughal Emperor. The largest Muslim-ruled state was
Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad Deccan, was an Indian princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state under a local or in ...
, which was also the first to sign a treaty with the British, in 1798, when it was caught between them and the Marathas. The treaties of 1817 and 1818 concluding the decisive
Third Anglo-Maratha War The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1819) was the final and decisive conflict between the British East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), ...
left the remaining Maratha territories as princely states, with treaties with the British, and the Rajput states resumed their subordinate status, now with the British.


British relationship with the princely states

India under the British ''Raj''
India under the British ''Raj''
(the "Indian Empire") consisted of two types of territory:
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
and the ''Native states'' or ''Princely states''. In its
Interpretation Act 1889 The Interpretation Act 1889 (52 & 53 Vict c 63) was an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. In Northern IrelandSection 48(2)of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 provided that without p ...
, the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
adopted the following definitions:
(4.) The expression "British India" shall mean all territories and places within Her Majesty's dominions which are for the time being governed by Her Majesty through the Governor-General of India or through any governor or other officer subordinate to the Governor-General of India.
(5.) The expression "India" shall mean British India together with any territories of any native prince or chief under the suzerainty of Her Majesty exercised through the Governor-General of India, or through any governor or other officer subordinate to the Governor-General of India.
In general the term "
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
" had been used (and is still used) also to refer to the regions under the rule of the East India Company in India from 1774 to 1858. The
British Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

British Crown
's suzerainty over 175 princely states, generally the largest and most important, was exercised in the name of the British Crown by the central government of British India under the Viceroy; the remaining approximately 400 states were influenced by Agents answerable to the provincial governments of British India under a Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or Chief Commissioner. A clear distinction between "dominion" and "suzerainty" was supplied by the jurisdiction of the courts of law: the law of British India rested upon the legislation enacted by the British Parliament, and the legislative powers those laws vested in the various governments of British India, both central and local; in contrast, the courts of the princely states existed under the authority of the respective rulers of those states.


Princely status and titles

The Indian rulers bore various titles – including
Chhatrapati Chhatrapati was a royal title from the Indian subcontinent that was mainly used by the Maratha Empire, Hindu Marathas. It is often taken to be the equivalent of emperor. The word ‘Chhatrapati’ is a Sanskrit language compound word (tatpurusha i ...
(exclusively used by the 3
Bhonsle The Bhonsle (or Bhonsale, Bhosale, Bhosle, Bhonslà) are a prominent group within the Maratha clan system The Maratha clan system (also referred to as Shahannava Kuli Marathas, 96 Kuli Marathas or 96K) refers to the network of 96 clans of f ...
dynasty of the
Maratha The Marathi people, also rendered as Marathis or Maharashtrian, are an ethnolinguistic group who speak Marathi language, Marathi, an Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan language, as their native language. They inhabit the state of Maharashtra in mo ...

Maratha
s) ("emperor"),
Maharaja Mahārāja (; also spelled Maharajah, Maharaj) is a Sanskrit title for a "great ruler", "great Monarch, king" or "high king". A few ruled mighty states informally called empires, including ruler raja Sri Gupta, founder of the ancient Indian ...
or
Raja ''Raja'' (; from sa, राजन्, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguis ...

Raja
("king"),
Sultan Sultan (; ar, سلطان ', ) is a position with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic abstract noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phone ...

Sultan
,
Nawab Nawab ( ar, نواب; bn, নবাব/নওয়াব; hi, नवाब; Punjabi language, Punjabi : ਨਵਾਬ; Persian language, Persian, Punjabi language, Punjabi , Sindhi language, Sindhi, Urdu: نواب), also spelt Nawaab, Nava ...

Nawab
,
Emir Emir (; ar, أمير ' ), sometimes Romanization of Arabic, transliterated amir, amier, or ameer, is a word of Arabic language, Arabic origin that can refer to a male monarch, aristocratic, aristocrat, holder of high-ranking military or politic ...

Emir
,
Raje *In Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha, is a states and union territories of India, state in the western and central peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. Maharashtra is the List of states ...
,
Nizam The Nizams were the rulers of Hyderabad from 18th-through-20th-century. Nizam of Hyderabad (Niẓām ul-Mulk, also known as Asaf Jah) was the title of the monarch of the Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad De ...

Nizam
, Wadiyar (used only by the Maharajas of
Mysore Mysore (), officially Mysuru (; Kannada: ಮೈಸೂರು), is a city in the southern part of the state of Karnataka, India. Mysore city is geographically located between 12° 18′ 26″ north latitude and 76° 38′ 59″ east longitude. I ...

Mysore
, meaning "lord"), Agniraj Maharaj for the rulers of Bhaddaiyan Raj,
Chogyal The Chogyal (" Dharma Kings", , Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Ind ...
,
Nawab Nawab ( ar, نواب; bn, নবাব/নওয়াব; hi, नवाब; Punjabi language, Punjabi : ਨਵਾਬ; Persian language, Persian, Punjabi language, Punjabi , Sindhi language, Sindhi, Urdu: نواب), also spelt Nawaab, Nava ...

Nawab
("governor"), Nayak,
Wāli ''Wāli'', ''Wā'lī'' or ''vali'' (from ar, والي ''Wālī'') is an administrative title that was used in the Muslim World (including the Caliphate and Ottoman Empire) to designate governors of administrative divisions. It is still in use ...
, Inamdar, Saranjamdar and many others. Whatever the literal meaning and traditional prestige of the ruler's actual title, the British government translated them all as "prince", to avoid the implication that the native rulers could be "kings" with status equal to that of the British monarch. More prestigious Hindu rulers (mostly existing before the Mughal Empire, or having split from such old states) often used the title "
Raja ''Raja'' (; from sa, राजन्, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguis ...

Raja
",
Raje *In Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha, is a states and union territories of India, state in the western and central peninsular region of India occupying a substantial portion of the Deccan Plateau. Maharashtra is the List of states ...
" or a variant such as
Rai Rai or RAI may refer to: Title of royalty and nobility * Rai (title) ''Rai'' ( ur, , ; bn, রায়) is a historical title of royalty and nobility in the Indian subcontinent used by rulers and chieftains of many princely states. It is deri ...
,
Rana Rana may refer to: Astronomy * Rana (crater), a crater on Mars * Delta Eridani or Rana, a star Films * ''Rana'', an unfinished Indian film by K. S. Ravikumar People, groups and titles * Rana (name), a given name and surname (including a list of p ...
, "Rao", "Rawat" or
Rawal Rawal (also spelled Raval) or Raol originally is a regional variation of the Hindi princely ruler title Raja/Radjah (literally "king") used in some princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state ...
. Also in this 'class' were several Thakurs or Thai ores and a few particular titles, such as
Sardar Sardar ( fa, سردار , , 'commander', literally 'headmaster'), also spelled as Sirdar, Sardaar, Shordar or Serdar, is a title of nobility that was originally used to denote princes, noblemen, and other Aristocracy (class), aristocrats. It ...

Sardar
,
MankariMankari (Mānkari or Maankari) is a hereditary title used by Maratha The Maratha caste are a Marathi people, Marathi clan originally formed in the earlier centuries from the amalgamation of families from the peasant (Kunbi), shepherd (Dhangar), ...
(or Mānkari/Maankari),
Deshmukh Deshmukh (), ( mr, देशमुख, kn, ದೇಶ್ಮುಖ್, te, దేశముఖ్) is a historical title conferred to the rulers of a . It is used as a surname in certain regions of India, specifically in the states of Maharashtra ...
, Sar Desai, Istamuradar, Saranjamdar, Raja Inamdar etc. The most prestigious Hindu rulers usually had the prefix "maha" ("great", compare for example Grand Duke) in their titles, as in ''Maharaja, Maharana, Maharao'', etc. This was used in many princely states, including
Mewar Mewar or Mewad is a region in the south-central part of Rajasthan Rajasthan (; ; lit. 'Land of Kings') is a in . It covers or 10.4 percent of India's total geographical area. It is the and the . It is on India's northwestern side, wh ...

Mewar
,
Travancore The Kingdom of Travancore (Help:IPA/English, /ˈtrævənkɔːr/), also known as the Kingdom of Thiruvithamkoor, was an Indian kingdom from c. 1729 until 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruva ...
and
Cochin , settlement_type = Metropolis in the background A metropolis () is a large city or conurbation which is a significant economic, political, and cultural center for a country or region, and an important hub for regional or int ...

Cochin
. The state of
Travancore The Kingdom of Travancore (Help:IPA/English, /ˈtrævənkɔːr/), also known as the Kingdom of Thiruvithamkoor, was an Indian kingdom from c. 1729 until 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruva ...
also had queens regent styled Maharani, applied only to sister of king in Kerala. There were also compound titles, such as (Maha)rajadhiraj, Raj-i-rajgan, often relics from an elaborate system of hierarchical titles under the
Mughal emperors The Mughal (or Moghul) emperors built and ruled the Mughal Empire The Mughal Empire, Mogul or Moghul Empire, was an Early modern period, early modern empire in South Asia. Quote: "Although the first two Timurid emperors and many of their ...
. For example, the addition of the adjective ''Bahadur'' raised the status of the titleholder one level. Furthermore, most dynasties used a variety of additional titles, such as Varma in South India. This should not be confused with various titles and suffixes not specific to princes but used by entire (sub)castes. This is almost analogous to
Singh Singh (Help:IPA, IPA: ) is a title, middle name, or surname that means "lion" in various South Asian and Southeast Asian communities. Traditionally used by the Hindu Kshatriya community, it eventually became a common surname adopted by different ...

Singh
title in North India. The
Jat The Jat people () are a traditionally agriculture based community largely in rural parts of Northern India North India is a loosely defined region consisting of the northern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of ...
Sikh Sikhs ( or ; pa, ਸਿੱਖ, ', ) are people who adhere to Sikhism, a Monotheism, monotheistic religion that originated in the late 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, based on the revelation of Guru Nanak. The te ...

Sikh
princes concentrated at
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...

Punjab
usually adopted Hindu type titles when attaining princely rank; at a lower level
Sardar Sardar ( fa, سردار , , 'commander', literally 'headmaster'), also spelled as Sirdar, Sardaar, Shordar or Serdar, is a title of nobility that was originally used to denote princes, noblemen, and other Aristocracy (class), aristocrats. It ...

Sardar
was used.
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", ...

Muslim
rulers almost all used the title "
Nawab Nawab ( ar, نواب; bn, নবাব/নওয়াব; hi, नवाब; Punjabi language, Punjabi : ਨਵਾਬ; Persian language, Persian, Punjabi language, Punjabi , Sindhi language, Sindhi, Urdu: نواب), also spelt Nawaab, Nava ...

Nawab
" (the Arabic honorific of ''naib'', "deputy", used of the Mughal governors, who became de facto autonomous with the decline of the Mughal Empire), with the prominent exceptions of the
Nizam The Nizams were the rulers of Hyderabad from 18th-through-20th-century. Nizam of Hyderabad (Niẓām ul-Mulk, also known as Asaf Jah) was the title of the monarch of the Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad De ...

Nizam
of Hyderabad & Berar, the
Wāli ''Wāli'', ''Wā'lī'' or ''vali'' (from ar, والي ''Wālī'') is an administrative title that was used in the Muslim World (including the Caliphate and Ottoman Empire) to designate governors of administrative divisions. It is still in use ...
/ Khan of Kalat and the Wāli of Swat. Other less usual titles included Darbar Sahib,
Dewan ''Dewan'' (also known as ''diwan'', sometimes spelled ''devan'' or ''divan'') designated a powerful government official, minister, or ruler. A ''dewan'' was the head of a state institution of the same name (see Divan A divan or diwan ( fa, ...

Dewan
, Jam, Mehtar (unique to
Chitral Chitral ( ; khw, , lit=field, translit=ćhitrār) is a town situated on the Kunar River, Chitral River in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It serves as the capital of the Chitral District and likewise served as the capital of the Chitra ...
) and Mir (from
Emir Emir (; ar, أمير ' ), sometimes Romanization of Arabic, transliterated amir, amier, or ameer, is a word of Arabic language, Arabic origin that can refer to a male monarch, aristocratic, aristocrat, holder of high-ranking military or politic ...

Emir
).


Precedence and prestige

However, the actual importance of a princely state cannot be read from the title of its ruler, which was usually ''granted'' (or at least recognised) as a favour, often in recognition for loyalty and services rendered to the
Mughal Empire The Mughal, Mogul, or Moghul Empire was an early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, ge ...
. Although some titles were raised once or even repeatedly, there was no automatic updating when a state gained or lost real power. In fact, princely titles were even awarded to holders of domains (mainly
jagir A jagir ( fa, , translit=Jāgir), also spelled as jageer, was a type of feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between ...
s) and even
taluqdar The Talukdars or Talukders ( Bengali language, Bangla : তালুকদার, ur, ) (from Arabic language, Arabic ''ta'alluq'', "attachment " + ''dar'' "owner"), were Aristocracy (class), aristocrats who formed the ruling class during th ...
s and
zamindar A zamindar (also known as zomindar, zomidar, or jomidar) in the Indian subcontinent was an autonomous or semiautonomous ruler of a state who were originally Hindu Hindus (; ) are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnica ...

zamindar
s, which were not states at all. Most of the zamindar who hold the princely titles were in fact erstwhile princely and royal states reduced to zamindari by the British EIC. Various sources give significantly different numbers of states and domains of the various types. Even in general, the definition of titles and domains are clearly not well-established. In addition to their titles all princely rulers were eligible to be appointed to certain British orders of chivalry associated with India, the and the . Women could be appointed as "Knights" (instead of Dames) of these orders. Rulers entitled to 21-gun and 19-gun salutes were normally appointed to the highest rank, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India. Many Indian princes served in the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
, the
Indian Army The Indian Army is the land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organi ...
, or in local guard or police forces, often rising to high ranks; some even served while on the throne. Many of these were appointed as an
Aide de camp An ''aide-de-camp'' (, ; French expression meaning literally ''helper in the ilitarycamp'') is a personal assistant A personal assistant, also referred to as personal aide (PA) or personal secretary (PS), is a job title describing a per ...
, either to the ruling prince of their own house (in the case of relatives of such rulers) or indeed to the British monarchs. Many saw
active service Active duty is a full-time occupation as part of a military force, as opposed to reserve duty. In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is m ...
, both on the subcontinent and on other fronts, during both World Wars. Apart from those members of the princely houses who entered military service and who distinguished themselves, a good number of princes received honorary ranks as officers in the British and Indian Armed Forces. Those ranks were conferred based on several factors, including their heritage, lineage, gun-salute (or lack of one) as well as personal character or martial traditions. After the First and Second World Wars, the princely rulers of several of the major states, including
Gwalior Gwalior () is a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh lies at upper Madhya Pradesh and one of the National Capital Region (India)#Counter magnets, Counter-magnet cities. Located south of Delhi, the capital city of India, fr ...

Gwalior
,
Patiala Patiala () is a city in southeastern Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region a ...
,
Nabha Nabha is a city and municipal council in the Patiala district in the Indian state of Punjab, India, Punjab. It just 24 km from Patiala, Patiala city, the district headquarter. It was the capital of the former Nabha State. Nabha is also a sub-div ...
, Faridkort,
Bikaner Bikaner () is a city in the northwest of the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (new ...
,
Jaipur Jaipur (; hi, जयपुर; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscu ...
,
Jodhpur Jodhpur (; ) is the second-largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan and officially the second metropolitan city of the state. It was formerly the seat of the princely state of Jodhpur State. Jodhpur was historically the capital of the Ma ...
,
Jammu and Kashmir Jammu is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the river Tawi River ...
and Hyderabad, were given honorary general officer ranks as a result of their states' contributions to the war effort. * Lieutenant/Captain/Flight Lieutenant or Lieutenant-Commander/Major/Squadron Leader (for junior members of princely houses or for minor princes) * Commander/Lieutenant-Colonel/Wing Commander or Captain/Colonel/Group Captain (granted to princes of salute states, often to those entitled to 15-guns or more) * Commodore/Brigadier/Air Commodore (conferred upon princes of salute states entitled to gun salutes of 15-guns or more) * Major-General/Air Vice-Marshal (conferred upon princes of salute states entitled to 15-guns or more; conferred upon rulers of the major princely states, including Baroda,
Kapurthala Kapurthala is a city in Punjab Punjab ( Gurmukhi: ; Shahmukhi: ; , ; , ; ; also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and historical region in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which ...
, Travancore,
Bhopal Bhopal (; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...
and
Mysore Mysore (), officially Mysuru (; Kannada: ಮೈಸೂರು), is a city in the southern part of the state of Karnataka, India. Mysore city is geographically located between 12° 18′ 26″ north latitude and 76° 38′ 59″ east longitude. I ...
) * Lieutenant-General (conferred upon the rulers of the largest and most prominent princely houses after the First and Second World Wars for their states' contributions to the war effort.) * General (very rarely awarded; the Maharajas of Gwalior and Jammu & Kashmir were created honorary Generals in the British Army in 1877, the Maharaja of Bikaner was made one in 1937, and the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1941) It was also not unusual for members of princely houses to be appointed to various colonial offices, often far from their native state, or to enter the diplomatic corps.


Salute states

The
gun salute A salute is a gesture A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication Nonverbal communication (NVC) is the transmission of messages or signals through a nonverbal platform such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, Posture ...
system was used to set unambiguously the precedence of the major rulers in the area in which the British East India Company was active, or generally of the states and their dynasties. As heads of a state, certain princely rulers were entitled to be saluted by the firing of an odd number of guns between three and 21, with a greater number of guns indicating greater prestige. Generally, the number of guns remained the same for all successive rulers of a particular state, but individual princes were sometimes granted additional guns on a personal basis. Furthermore, rulers were sometimes granted additional gun salutes within their own territories only, constituting a semi-promotion. The states of all these rulers (about 120) were known as
salute states A salute state was a princely state under the British Raj that had been granted a gun salute by the British Crown (as paramount ruler); i.e., the protocolary privilege for its ruler to be greeted—originally by Royal Navy ships, later also on l ...
. After , the Maharana of
Udaipur Udaipur () (ISO 15919: ''Udayapura''), is a city in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar in the former Rajputana Agency. It was founded in 1559 by Udai Singh II of the Sisodia clan of Rajput, when he ...
displaced the
Nizam The Nizams were the rulers of Hyderabad from 18th-through-20th-century. Nizam of Hyderabad (Niẓām ul-Mulk, also known as Asaf Jah) was the title of the monarch of the Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad De ...

Nizam
of Hyderabad as the most senior prince in India, because
Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad Deccan, was an Indian princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state under a local or in ...
had not acceded to the new
Dominion of India The Dominion of India, officially the Union of India,* Quote: “The first collective use (of the word "dominion") occurred at the Colonial Conference (April to May 1907) when the title was conferred upon Canada and Australia. New Zealand and N ...
, and the style ''Highness'' was extended to all rulers entitled to 9-gun salutes. When the princely states had been integrated into the Indian Union their rulers were promised continued privileges and an income (known as the
Privy Purse The Privy Purse is the British Sovereign The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercise ...
) for their upkeep. Subsequently, when the Indian government abolished the Privy Purse in 1971, the whole princely order ceased to be recognised under Indian law, although many families continue to retain their social prestige informally; some descendants of the rulers are still prominent in regional or national politics, diplomacy, business and high society. At the time of Indian independence, only five rulers – the
Nizam The Nizams were the rulers of Hyderabad from 18th-through-20th-century. Nizam of Hyderabad (Niẓām ul-Mulk, also known as Asaf Jah) was the title of the monarch of the Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad De ...

Nizam
of
Hyderabad Hyderabad ( , , ) is the capital and largest city of the India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the ...
, the Maharaja of
Mysore Mysore (), officially Mysuru (; Kannada: ಮೈಸೂರು), is a city in the southern part of the state of Karnataka, India. Mysore city is geographically located between 12° 18′ 26″ north latitude and 76° 38′ 59″ east longitude. I ...
, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir state, the Maharaja
GaekwadGaekwad (also spelled as Gaikwar and Gaikwad) (Marathi: Gāyǎkǎvāḍǎ) is a surname native to Indian state of Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH) is a state in the western peninsular region of India India (Hindi: ), officially the ...
of
Baroda Vadodara, also known as Baroda, is the third-largest city in the States and union territories of India, Indian state of Gujarat. It serves as the administrative headquarters of the Vadodara district and is situated on the banks of the Vishwam ...

Baroda
and the Maharaja
Scindia Scindia dynasty (anglicized from Shinde and also spelled popularly as Shinde in Maharashtra), is a Hindu Maratha dynasty of Kunbi origin that ruled the erstwhile Gwalior State, State of Gwalior. It had the patel-ship of Kumberkerrab in Wai. It ...
of
Gwalior Gwalior () is a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh lies at upper Madhya Pradesh and one of the National Capital Region (India)#Counter magnets, Counter-magnet cities. Located south of Delhi, the capital city of India, fr ...
– were entitled to a 21-gun salute. Six more – the Nawab of
Bhopal Bhopal (; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller low ...
, the
Maharaja Holkar The Holkar dynasty was a Maratha clan of Dhangar origin in India. The Holkars were generals under Peshwa Baji Rao I, and later became Maharajas of Indore State, Indore in Central India as an independent member of the Maratha Empire until 1818 ...
of
Indore Indore is the most populous and the largest in the Indian state of . It serves as the headquarters of both and . It is also considered as an education hub of the state and has campuses of both the and the . Located on the southern edge of ...
, the Maharaja of Bharatpur, the Maharana of
Udaipur Udaipur () (ISO 15919: ''Udayapura''), is a city in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar in the former Rajputana Agency. It was founded in 1559 by Udai Singh II of the Sisodia clan of Rajput, when he ...
, the Maharaja of
Kolhapur Kolhapur () is a city on the banks of the Punchganga river in the southern part of the Indian state of Maharashtra Maharashtra (; , abbr. MH or Maha, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Mag ...
, the
Maharaja Mahārāja (; also spelled Maharajah, Maharaj) is a Sanskrit title for a "great ruler", "great Monarch, king" or "high king". A few ruled mighty states informally called empires, including ruler raja Sri Gupta, founder of the ancient Indian ...
of
Patiala Patiala () is a city in southeastern Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region a ...
and the Maharaja of
Travancore The Kingdom of Travancore (Help:IPA/English, /ˈtrævənkɔːr/), also known as the Kingdom of Thiruvithamkoor, was an Indian kingdom from c. 1729 until 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruva ...
– were entitled to 19-gun salutes. The most senior princely ruler was the
Nizam of Hyderabad The Nizams were the rulers of Hyderabad from 18th-through-20th-century. Nizam of Hyderabad (Niẓām ul-Mulk, also known as Asaf Jah) was the title of the monarch of the Hyderabad State Hyderabad State (), also known as Hyderabad D ...
, who was entitled to the unique style ''
Exalted Highness His Exalted Highness is a rare hybrid of the title style Highness. It is used as a salutation style ''only'' for the Nizams of Hyderabad & Berar Province, Berar conferred by the British Government. See also * Nizams of Hyderabad *Mir Osman Ali Kh ...
'' and
21-gun salute A 21-gun salute is the most commonly recognized of the customary gun salutes that are performed by the firing of cannon A cannon is a large-caliber A 45 ACP hollowpoint (Federal Cartridge, Federal HST) with two .22 Long Rifle, 2 ...
. Other princely rulers entitled to salutes of 11 guns (soon 9 guns too) or more were entitled to the style ''Highness''. No special style was used by rulers entitled to lesser gun salutes. As ''paramount ruler'', and successor to the Mughals, the British ''
King-Emperor A king-emperor, the female equivalent being queen-empress, is a sovereign ruler who is simultaneously a king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli o ...
'' of India, for whom the style of
Majesty Majesty (abbreviated HM for His Majesty or Her Majesty, oral address Your Majesty; from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally ...

Majesty
was reserved, was entitled to an 'imperial' 101-gun salute—in the European tradition also the number of guns fired to announce the birth of an heir (male) to the throne.


Non-salute states

There was no strict correlation between the levels of the titles and the classes of gun salutes, the real measure of precedence, but merely a growing percentage of higher titles in classes with more guns. As a rule the majority of gun-salute princes had at least nine, with numbers below that usually the prerogative of Arab Sheikhs of the
Aden protectorate The Aden Protectorate ( ar, محمية عدن ') was a British protectorate in southern Arabia The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of ...

Aden protectorate
, also under British protection. There were many so-called non-salute states of lower prestige. Since the total of salute states was 117 and there were more than 500 princely states, most rulers were not entitled to any gun salute. Not all of these were minor rulers –
Surguja State Surguja State, was one of the main princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state under a local or indigenous or regional ruler in a sub ...
, for example, was both larger and more populous than Karauli State, but the Maharaja of Karauli was entitled to a 17-gun salute and the Maharaja of Surguja was not entitled to any gun salute at all. A number of princes, in the broadest sense of the term, were not even acknowledged as such. On the other hand, the dynasties of certain defunct states were allowed to keep their princely status – they were known as
political pensioner A political pensioner enjoys a pension A pension (, from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, know ...
s, such as the Nawab of
Oudh The Oudh State (, also Kingdom of Oudh, or Awadh State) was a princely state A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a under a local or indigenous o ...
. There were also certain estates of British India which were rendered as political saranjams, having equal princely status. Though none of these princes were awarded gun salutes, princely titles in this category were recognised as a form of
vassals A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
of salute states, and were not even in direct relation with the paramount power.


Largest princely states by area


Doctrine of lapse

A controversial aspect of East India Company rule was the
doctrine of lapse The doctrine of lapse was a policy of annexation initiated by the British East India Company in India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies ...
, a policy under which lands whose feudal ruler died (or otherwise became unfit to rule) without a male biological heir (as opposed to an adopted son) would become directly controlled by the Company and an adopted son would not become the ruler of the princely state. This policy went counter to Indian tradition where, unlike Europe, it was far more the accepted norm for a ruler to appoint his own heir. The doctrine of lapse was pursued most vigorously by the Governor-General Sir James Ramsay, 10th Earl (later 1st Marquess) of
DalhousieDalhousie ( ) may refer to: Buildings *Dalhousie Castle, a castle near Bonnyrigg, Scotland *Dalhousie Obelisk, a monument in Empress Place, Singapore *Dalhousie Station (Montreal), a former passenger rail station in Montreal, Quebec *Dalhousie stat ...

Dalhousie
. Dalhousie annexed seven states, including
Awadh Awadh (), known in British historical texts as ''Avadh'' or ''Oudh'', is a region in the modern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which was before Independence Day (India), independence known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Awadh is boun ...
(Oudh), whose Nawabs he had accused of misrule, and the
Maratha The Marathi people, also rendered as Marathis or Maharashtrian, are an ethnolinguistic group who speak Marathi language, Marathi, an Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan language, as their native language. They inhabit the state of Maharashtra in mo ...

Maratha
states of
Nagpur Nagpur (Marathi pronunciation: Help:IPA/Marathi, aːɡpuːɾ is the third largest city and the winter capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the 13th largest city in India by population and according to an Oxford's Economics rep ...

Nagpur
,
Jhansi Jhansi () is a historic city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Uttar Pradesh (; , 'Northern Province') is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by ...
, Satara,
Sambalpur Sambalpur () is the fifth largest city in the Indian State of Odisha Odisha (English: , ), formerly Orissa (), is an States and union territories of India, Indian state located in East India, Eastern India. It is the List of states an ...

Sambalpur
, and
Thanjavur Thanjavur (), formerly Tanjore,PletcherPletcher is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * David M. Pletcher (1920–2004), American historian * Todd Pletcher (born 1967), American thoroughbred trainer {{Short pages monitor
Thanjavur
. Resentment over the annexation of these states turned to indignation when the heirlooms of the Maharajas of Nagpur were auctioned off in Calcutta. Dalhousie's actions contributed to the rising discontent amongst the upper castes which played a large part in the outbreak of the
Indian mutiny of 1857 The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a major, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising in India in 1857–58 against the rule of the British East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (H ...
. The last Mughal Badshah (emperor), whom many of the mutineers saw as a figurehead to rally around, was deposed following its suppression. In response to the unpopularity of the doctrine, it was discontinued with the end of Company rule and the
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
's assumption of direct power over India.


Imperial governance

By treaty, the British controlled the external affairs of the princely states absolutely. As the states were not British possessions, they retained control over their own internal affairs, subject to a degree of British influence which in many states was substantial. By the beginning of the 20th century, relations between the British and the four largest states –
Hyderabad Hyderabad ( , , ) is the capital and largest city of the India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the ...
,
Mysore Mysore (), officially Mysuru (; Kannada: ಮೈಸೂರು), is a city in the southern part of the state of Karnataka, India. Mysore city is geographically located between 12° 18′ 26″ north latitude and 76° 38′ 59″ east longitude. I ...
, Jammu and Kashmir, and
Baroda Vadodara, also known as Baroda, is the third-largest city in the States and union territories of India, Indian state of Gujarat. It serves as the administrative headquarters of the Vadodara district and is situated on the banks of the Vishwam ...

Baroda
– were directly under the control of the
Governor-General of India The Governor-General of India (1773–1950, from 1858 to 1947 the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, commonly shortened to Viceroy of India) was the representative of the Monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kin ...
, in the person of a British Resident. Two agencies, for
Rajputana Rājputhana, meaning "Land of the Rajputs", was a region in South Asia that included mainly the present-day States of India, Indian state of Rajasthan, as well as parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, and some adjoining areas of Sindh in modern ...

Rajputana
and
Central India Central India is a loosely defined region of India. There is no clear official definition and various ones may be used. One common definition consists of the states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State ...
, oversaw twenty and 148 princely states respectively. The remaining princely states had their own British political officers, or Agents, who answered to the administrators of India's provinces. The Agents of five princely states were then under the authority of
Madras Chennai (, ), also known as Madras (List of renamed Indian cities and states#Tamil Nadu, the official name until 1996), is the capital city of the states and territories of India, Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The state's largest city in area ...
, 354 under
Bombay Mumbai (, ; also known as Bombay — the official name until 1995) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, ...
, 26 of
Bengal Bengal (; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, p ...
, two under
Assam Assam (, ) is a state in Northeast India, northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra Valley, Brahmaputra and Barak River valleys. Assam covers an area of . The state is bordered by Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh to ...

Assam
, 34 under
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...
, fifteen under
Central Provinces and Berar The Central Provinces and Berar was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit o ...
and two under . The
Chamber of Princes The Chamber of Princes (''Narendra Mandal'') was an institution established in 1920 by a royal proclamation A proclamation (Lat. ''proclamare'', to make public by announcement) is an official declaration issued by a person of authority to m ...
(''Narender Mandal'' or ''Narendra Mandal'') was an institution established in 1920 by a
Royal Proclamation A proclamation (Lat. ''proclamare'', to make public by announcement) is an official declaration issued by a person of authority to make certain announcements known. Proclamations are currently used within the governing framework of some nations ...
of the
King-Emperor A king-emperor, the female equivalent being queen-empress, is a sovereign ruler who is simultaneously a king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli o ...

King-Emperor
to provide a forum in which the rulers could voice their needs and aspirations to the government. It survived until the end of the
British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the In ...

British Raj
in 1947. By the early 1930s, most of the princely states whose Agencies were under the authority of India's provinces were organised into new Agencies, answerable directly to the Governor-general, on the model of the Central India and Rajputana agencies: the
Eastern States Agency The Eastern States Agency was a grouping of princely states A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state A vassal state is any state that has a mut ...
,
Punjab States Agency The Punjab States Agency was a political office of the British Indian Empire The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam ...
,
Baluchistan Agency The Baluchistan Agency (or Balochistan or Baloochistan or United Kingdom, British Balochistan) was one of the Colony, colonial agencies of British India, agencies of British India. It was located in the present-day Pakistani Balochistan province.Adm ...
,
Deccan States Agency The Deccan States Agency, also known as the Deccan States Agency and Kolhapur Residency, was a Agencies of British India, political agency of British India, managing the relations of the British government of the Bombay Presidency with a collecti ...
, Madras States Agency and the Northwest Frontier States Agency. The Baroda Residency was combined with the princely states of northern Bombay Presidency into the Baroda, Western India and Gujarat States Agency.
Gwalior Gwalior () is a major city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh lies at upper Madhya Pradesh and one of the National Capital Region (India)#Counter magnets, Counter-magnet cities. Located south of Delhi, the capital city of India, fr ...

Gwalior
was separated from the Central India Agency and given its own Resident, and the states of Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, Rampur and Benares, formerly with Agents under the authority of the United Provinces, were placed under the Gwalior Residency in 1936. The princely states of Sandur, India, Sandur and Banganapalle in Mysore Presidency were transferred to the agency of the Mysore Resident in 1939.


Principal princely states in 1947

The native states in 1947 included five large states that were in "direct political relations" with the Government of India. For the complete list of princely states in 1947, see List of princely states of India.


In direct relations with the central government

Central India Agency, Gwalior Residency,
Baluchistan Agency The Baluchistan Agency (or Balochistan or Baloochistan or United Kingdom, British Balochistan) was one of the Colony, colonial agencies of British India, agencies of British India. It was located in the present-day Pakistani Balochistan province.Adm ...
, Rajputana Agency,
Eastern States Agency The Eastern States Agency was a grouping of princely states A princely state, also called a native state, feudatory state or Indian state (for those states on the subcontinent), was a vassal state A vassal state is any state that has a mut ...
Gwalior Residency (two states) Other states under provincial governments
Madras Chennai (, ), also known as Madras (List of renamed Indian cities and states#Tamil Nadu, the official name until 1996), is the capital city of the states and territories of India, Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The state's largest city in area ...
(5 States)
Bombay Mumbai (, ; also known as Bombay — the official name until 1995) is the capital city A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, ...
(354 States) Central Provinces and Berar, Central Provinces (15 States)
Punjab Punjab (; ; ; ; also as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a geopolitical, cultural, and in , specifically in the northern part of the , comprising areas of eastern and . The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts. ...
(45 States) Assam#British Assam, Assam (26 states)


Burma

;Burma#Colonial era (1886–1948), Burma (52 states)


State military forces

The armies of the Native States were bound by many restrictions that were imposed by
subsidiary alliance A subsidiary alliance, in South Asian history, was a tributary alliance between an Indian state and a European East India Company. The system of subsidiary alliances was pioneered by the French East India Company governor Joseph François Du ...
s. They existed mainly for ceremonial use and for internal policing, although certain units designated as Imperial Service Troops, were available for service alongside the regular Indian Army upon request by the British government. According to the ,
Since a chief can neither attack his neighbour nor fall out with a foreign nation, it follows that he needs no military establishment which is not required either for police purposes or personal display, or for cooperation with the Imperial Government. The treaty made with Gwalior in 1844, and the instrument of transfer given to Mysore in 1881, alike base the restriction of the forces of the State upon the broad ground of protection. The former explained in detail that unnecessary armies were embarrassing to the State itself and the cause of disquietude to others: a few months later a striking proof of this was afforded by the army of the Sikh kingdom of Lahore. The British Government has undertaken to protect the dominions of the Native princes from invasion and even from rebellion within: its army is organised for the defence not merely of
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
, but of all the possessions under the suzerainty of the King-Emperor.
In addition, other restrictions were imposed:
The treaties with most of the larger States are clear on this point. Posts in the interior must not be fortified, factories for the production of guns and ammunition must not be constructed, nor may the subject of other States be enlisted in the local forces. ... They must allow the forces that defend them to obtain local supplies, to occupy cantonments or positions, and to arrest deserters; and in addition to these services they must recognise the British Empire, Imperial control of the railways, telegraphs, and postal communications as essential not only to the common welfare but to the common defence.
The Imperial Service Troops were routinely inspected by British army officers and generally had the same equipment as soldiers in the British Indian Army. Although their numbers were relatively small, the Imperial Service Troops were employed in China and British Somaliland in the first decade of the 20th century, and later saw action in the First World War and Second World War .


Political integration of princely states in 1947 and after


India

At the time of Partition of India, Indian independence on 15 August 1947, India was divided into two sets of territories, the first being the territories of "
British India The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, Presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one ...

British India
", which were under the direct control of the India Office in London and the
Governor-General of India The Governor-General of India (1773–1950, from 1858 to 1947 the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, commonly shortened to Viceroy of India) was the representative of the Monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kin ...
, and the second being the "princely states", the territories over which the Crown had suzerainty, but which were under the control of their hereditary rulers. In addition, there were several colonial enclaves controlled by France and Portugal. The integration of these territories into
Dominion of India The Dominion of India, officially the Union of India,* Quote: “The first collective use (of the word "dominion") occurred at the Colonial Conference (April to May 1907) when the title was conferred upon Canada and Australia. New Zealand and N ...
, that had been created by the Indian Independence Act 1947 by the British parliament, was a declared objective of the Indian National Congress, which the Government of India pursued over the years 1947 to 1949. Through a combination of tactics,
Sardar Sardar ( fa, سردار , , 'commander', literally 'headmaster'), also spelled as Sirdar, Sardaar, Shordar or Serdar, is a title of nobility that was originally used to denote princes, noblemen, and other Aristocracy (class), aristocrats. It ...

Sardar
Vallabhbhai Patel and V. P. Menon in the months immediately preceding and following the independence convinced the rulers of almost all of the hundreds of princely states to accede to India. In a speech in January 1948, Vallabhbhai Patel said: Although this process successfully integrated the vast majority of princely states into India, it was not as successful in relation to a few states, notably the former princely state of Kashmir and Jammu (princely state), Kashmir, whose Maharaja delayed signing the instrument of accession into India until his territories were under the threat of invasion by Pakistan, and the state of
Hyderabad Hyderabad ( , , ) is the capital and largest city of the India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the ...
, whose ruler decided to remain independent and was subsequently defeated by the Operation Polo invasion. Having secured their accession, Sardar Patel and V. P. Menon then proceeded, in a step-by-step process, to secure and extend the central government's authority over these states and to transform their administrations until, by 1956, there was little difference between the territories that had formerly been part of British India and those that had been princely states. Simultaneously, the Government of India, through a combination of diplomatic and economic pressure, acquired control over most of the remaining European colonial exclaves on the subcontinent. Fed up with the protracted and stubborn resistance of the Portuguese government; in 1961 the Indian Army Annexation of Goa, invaded and annexed Portuguese India. These territories, like the princely states, were also integrated into the Republic of India. As the final step, in 1971, the 26th amendment to the Constitution of India withdrew recognition of the princes as rulers, took away their remaining privileges, and abolished the remuneration granted to them by privy purses. In 2012, the High Court of Kerala in a judgement on ''Mujeeba Rahman vs the State Of Kerala'' stated that, 'though by the 26th amendment of the Constitution, Article 363 was repealed whereby the rights and privileges of the rulers of Indian States were taken away, still the name and title of the rulers remained as such and unaffected in so far as names and titles were not contemplated as rights or privileges under the repealed Articles 291 and 362 of the Constitution.' So the titles were not abolished by the Government; only their political powers and right to receive Privy Purse were cancelled.


Pakistan

During the period of the
British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the In ...

British Raj
, there were four princely states in Balochistan: Makran (princely state), Makran, Kharan (princely state), Kharan, Las Bela (princely state), Las Bela and Kalat. The first three acceded to Pakistan. However, the ruler of the fourth princely state, the Khan of Kalat Ahmad Yar Khan, declared Kalat's independence as this was one of the options given to all princely states. The state remained independent until it was acceded on 27 March 1948. The signing of the Instrument of Accession by Ahmad Yar Khan, led his brother, Prince Abdul Karim, to revolt against his brother's decision in July 1948, causing an Balochistan conflict, ongoing and still unresolved insurgency. Bahawalpur (princely state), Bahawalpur from the Punjab Agency joined Pakistan on 5 October 1947. The princely states of the North-West Frontier States Agency, North-West Frontier States Agencies. included the Dir Swat and Chitral Agency and the Deputy Commissioner of Hazara acting as the Political Agent for Amb and Phulra. These states joined Pakistan on independence from the British.


See also

* Political integration of India * List of princely states of British India (by region) * List of Indian monarchs * Praja Mandal * Salute state * Indian feudalism * Indian honorifics * Ghatwals and Mulraiyats * Jagirdar * List of Maratha dynasties and states * List of Rajput dynasties and states *
Maratha Empire The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was a power that dominated a large portion of the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century. The empire formally existed from 1674 with the coronation of Shivaji Shivaji Bhonsale I (; 19 ...

Maratha Empire
* Maratha titles * Oudh Bequest *
Rajputana Rājputhana, meaning "Land of the Rajputs", was a region in South Asia that included mainly the present-day States of India, Indian state of Rajasthan, as well as parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, and some adjoining areas of Sindh in modern ...

Rajputana
* Zamindar * Vorstenlanden, ''princely states in the Netherlands Indies''


References


Bibliography

* Bangash, Yaqoob Khan (2016). "A Princely Affair: The Accession and Integration of the Princely States of Pakistan, 1947–1955". Oxford University Press Pakistan. *Bhagavan, Manu. "Princely States and the Hindu Imaginary: Exploring the Cartography of Hindu Nationalism in Colonial India" ''Journal of Asian Studies,'' (Aug 2008) 67#3 pp 881–91
in JSTOR
* Bhagavan, Manu. ''Sovereign Spheres: Princes, Education and Empire in Colonial India'' (2003) * . * Ernst, W. and B. Pati, eds. ''India’s Princely States: People, Princes, and Colonialism'' (2007) * * Jeffrey, Robin. ''People, Princes and Paramount Power: Society and Politics in the Indian Princely States'' (1979) 396pp * Kooiman, Dick. ''Communalism and Indian Princely States: Travancore, Baroda & Hyderabad in the 1930s'' (2002), 249pp * * * Pochhammer, Wilhelm von ''India's Road to Nationhood: A Political History of the Subcontinent'' (1973) ch 5
excerpt
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Gazetteers

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External links

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and heads of government, and some biographies. {{DEFAULTSORT:Princely State Princely states of India, 1721 establishments in India 1949 disestablishments in India Types of administrative division Client state Hindu dynasties Former British protectorates